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Hong Kong: There’s so much more to this vibrant city than Disneyland

When you think of holidaying in Hong Kong, the first things that come to mind are usually Disneyland and Ocean Park. But there is so much more that this bustling city has to offer beyond theme parks and skyscrapers.

travel Updated: Apr 23, 2018 14:41 IST
Asian News International, New Delhi
Hong Kong Observation Wheel,Floating Palace in Jumbo Kingdom,Star Ferry
Breathtaking views of the Hong Kong skyline and the harbour (Shutterstock)

Vibrant, urbane, extraordinary - Hong Kong is all of this and more. Combining eastern and western influences, Hong Kong has a rich history that blends seamlessly with its modernistic city scapes and lifestyle. When people think of holidaying in Hong Kong, the first things that come to mind are usually Disneyland and Ocean Park. But there is so much more that this bustling city has to offer beyond theme parks and skyscrapers.

From breathtaking views of the skyline and the harbour front from rooftop restaurants and the magnificent Victoria Peak to enjoying a saunter along scenic walking trails and or the variety of culinary options found in every corner, the city has something for everyone. If you are planning a vacation in Hong Kong this summer, make sure you experience these with your kids after you are done with Disneyland and Ocean Park.

Get into the festival spirit

Spring, summer, autumn or winter - no matter which time of the year you visit, you’re guaranteed to be enthralled by one of Hong Kong’s many vibrant festivals and ancient cultural celebrations. Two of the biggest cultural festivals celebrated in the month of May and June are the Cheung Chau Bun festival and Dragon Boat festival. The Cheung Chau Bun festival is one of the liveliest festivals set in picturesque Cheung Chau island just a short ferry ride from the city. The week long celebrations include parades, lion dances and traditional ceremonies and culminates in the ‘bun scrambling’ competition. The Dragon Boat festival is equally exciting where 1000s of paddlers from around the world battle it out over three days of racing. Set against the iconic skyline, the festivals also include food trucks serving local delicacies such as the festive rice dumplings, colourful artistic and musical performances and concerts for completely fun-filled carnival celebration.

Tian Tian Buddha also known as a Big Buddha which sits hidden atop a hill in the scenic Lantau Island. (Shutterstock)

Meet the Big Buddha atop a cable car

A must see attraction in Hong Kong is the Tian Tian Buddha also known as a Big Buddha which sits hidden atop a hill in the scenic Lantau Island. The gigantic statue is situated near the Po Lin Monastery, an ancient Buddhist monastery, and represents the harmony between man and nature. The route to get to the Big Buddha is as gripping as the statue itself. A few steps outside the Tung Chung MTR on Lantau Island you will find the entrance to Ngong Ping 360 cable car ride which leads up to the Big Buddha. The crystal cabin car with a glass bottom offers breathtaking view of the lush green mountain, deep blue sea and even the airport. As you step out of the cable car, you are treated with culturally themed Ngong village which is lined with shops and eateries. If you want to end your day on a perfect note, take the ride back during sunset and enjoy the scenic beauty of Hong Kong.

Explore the city on a tram ride

One of the best ways to explore the city are the trams, also affectionately called by the locals as ‘Ding Ding’. These double-decker joyrides run through the heart of the city and provide excellent vantage points, especially from the upper deck, to take in all the sights and views. The trams have been an essentially part of Hong Kong for over a century and the oldest among these are the Peak tram which goes up to the highest point of Hong Kong, Victoria Peak. You can enjoy the majestic bird’s eye view of Hong Kong city and the harbour from this point. On your way to Victoria Peak, you can also drop by is Madame Tussauds with your kids and catch a glimpse of Michael Jackson and Bollywood heartthrob, Varun Dhawan.

Hop aboard the Star Ferry

There is a different thrill in experiencing Hong Kong’s beauty from the water. The Star Ferry is Hong Kong’s best loved icons and has been functioning with its original fleet since it was founded by a Parsi cook, Dorabjee Naorojee Mithaiwala in 1880s. An hour long ride from Tsim Sha Pui aboard the Star Ferry is one of the best value for money activities with spectacular views of Victoria Harbour and the ocean. You can also enjoy the ‘Symphony of Lights’ show at 8pm which sets Central into a frenzy of flashing color. Once you disembark from the ferry ride, the Hong Kong space museums is just a few steps away from the Pier where kids can enjoy interactive activities and learn about science and astronomy.

Visit a Floating Palace in Jumbo Kingdom

The Jumbo Kingdom is one of the two floating palace restaurants in Hong Kong and a must visit on any trip. The iconic attraction has been featured in movies and is frequented by stars and royalty. The multi-storey structure designed with traditional Chinese murals including dragons, pagodas and red and gold decorations representing prosperity and good fortune, will immediately take your breath away. It is also the world’s largest floating boat with seating that can cater to over 2000 diners at one time. The best seats in the house are outside or on the top deck, if the weather is good, where you enjoy the scenic views and authentic, local food, which it is known for. Dining in a floating boat in Hong Kong is a once in a lifetime experience you will never forget.

Similar to the London Eye, the ferris wheel is 60 meters high and offers 15 minute ride where you can get 360 degree views of Hong Kong Island. (Shutterstock)

Ride high on the Hong Kong Observation Wheel

If you can’t make it to Victoria Peak, a great way to get panoramic views of the famous skyline and harbour is on the Hong Kong Observation Wheel. Similar to the London Eye, the ferris wheel is 60 meters high and offers 15 minute ride where you can get 360 degree views of Hong Kong Island with Kowloon on one side and the bridge to Lantau Island the other. The 42 gondolas are all air conditioned, making for a cosy and comfortable ride. One of the best time to get on a ride would be sunset when the city lights up and all the skyscrapers look their sparkling best. After the ride you can also take a walk on the Central Waterfront Promenade or enjoy games, drinks and snacks at the plaza in the same area.

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First Published: Apr 23, 2018 14:40 IST